Spyro Reignited capitalises on nostalgia to craft a truly fantastic and modern gaming experience.
Earlier this month, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, a 20th anniversary remake of the original titles that debuted on the original Playstation back in the late 90s, was released upon a wave of excitement. Vastly improved graphics were a given, but would the controls still feel familiar? W the remastered music retain the presence of the originals? And, most importantly of all, would the game stay faithful to the originals?
When I first booted up the Reignited Trilogy two weeks ago, it was hard not to be overcome with nostalgia. Like millions of others, Spyro had been a big part of my childhood and I couldn’t wait to relive those adventures in glorious HD. Naturally, this is the best area to begin this review with: the graphics. The blend of colours largely stays true to the original, but with added clarity, glow, and a wonderful cartoony feel that technology in the 90s just simply couldn’t pull off. The lighting is excellent for every level and the environment is wonderfully reactive, with the flat green textures being replaced by grass that reacts to movement and can be burned by Spyro’s fire breath, although the more complex textures can sometimes make it harder to spot gems.
In being remastered, the game should seize the opportunity to fill in the blanks of the originals and add more detail where necessary, which it does accordingly. The occasional presence of a bookshelf, painting, or lantern really help breathe new life into the familiar environments. But what is perhaps most impressive from a visual standpoint is the character design. The character models in Reignited are excellently designed, particularly in Spyro 1, where the added detail gives every single one of the 80 dragons a unique personality that the hardware limitations of the original game simply couldn’t provide. From a visual standpoint, the Reignited Trilogy is everything fans could’ve hoped for and more.
Of course, the graphics are not everything. When it comes to the controls, thankfully this has been very well approached as well. Charging and jumping certainly feel improved, whilst using the fire breath in conjunction with the new sharp turning movements is a dream and can help take out several foes at once. Taking Spyro’s roll manoeuvre from the original game and making it available across the entire trilogy was also a very smart move. The only control issue is when it comes to flying. Gliding will take some getting used to, but trying to control Spyro on the speedway levels, particularly the races in Year Of The Dragon, is unnecessarily frustrating.
One of the elements that really stood out in the original trilogy was Stewart Copeland’s soundtrack. Precisely tailored to each environment with a distinctive heavy rock feel, developers Toys For Bob once again took an interesting approach to this. For example, reactivity has been incorporated into the new soundtrack, with the music speeding up when Spyro charges and mellowing out when entering an indoor area, or when the player is idle. This certainly helps to add a new dimension to the whole experience, but the remastered music does occasionally fail to capture the distinct bass sounds of the original. Luckily though, an in-game option to switch between the new and old soundtracks means that this isn’t much of a problem. In terms of other sound design, the voice acting does sometimes feel a bit strange, but perhaps this is normal given that these are new voice actors attempting to make their own mark on 20 year old scripts.
Another point of interest that really stood out to me whilst playing the Reignited Trilogy was the level of difficulty. One of the main points of criticism aimed at the similarly remade Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy was its high level of difficulty, but thankfully, the Reignited Trilogy doesn’t overly suffer from this problem. Boss fights such as Crush and Spike feel much easier, whilst for example the dog enemies in Toasty feel a lot tougher. Many of the side missions, particularly in Spyro 2, feel much easier as well. Not to worry though, for if you still want to have trouble with the trolley, you are still guaranteed to do so.
As one final point of importance, it is vital that the extra playable characters in Year Of The Dragon are examined as well. Agent 9’s handling is a thousand times better than it was before, and Sheila the Kangaroo still moves very freely too. However, Sgt. Byrd and Bentley face their fair share of camera problems. Whilst Bentley’s is irritatingly off-centre and slightly to the right, Sgt. Byrd’s is sometimes completely unusable, particularly when travelling through tunnels or other small spaces.
Is the Spyro Reignited Trilogy perfect? Almost, but not quite. Whilst it has done an excellent job of recreating and in some cases greatly improving the controls and visual detail of the original, these few issues, particularly relating to the extra characters, means that some areas of it can be unnecessarily frustrating. However, that doesn’t detract from the fact that it is an extremely well made remake that offers hours of entertainment. So if you are looking for a nostalgia trip or maybe even a bit of light heartedness to give you a break from the likes of Call of Duty or Red Dead Redemption 2, this could be exactly what you need.
Spyro: Reignited Trilogy is available on PS4 and Xbox One now.